The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a unit of the US Transportation Department, is mulling whether it will formally investigate a complaint related to a defect reportedly found in the Jeep Grand Cherokee from the 1993 to 2004 model years.
The vehicles' fuel tank is said to be an exposed fire hazard that may have contributed to hundreds of deaths.
The nonprofit Center for Auto Safety last month complained that the SUV's fuel tank extends below the rear bumper and is inadequately protected from crashes and rollovers.
The vehicle's fuel filler neck has also been claimed to tear off in crashes. The center filed a petition for an investigation and recall and the NTHSA says that it is deciding if there's enough evidence to support opening a probe into the 3 million Jeeps whose models fall within the 11-year period.
It's possible that the NHTSA's "defect petition," which began Nov. 6, would take months or years before a resolution comes out. An NHTSA spokesman said that since Jan. 1, 2008, this has been NHTSA's seventh pre-investigative review of an alleged defect.
So far, it has received reports of a dozen Jeep Grand Cherokee crashes involving a fuel tank leak or a fire potentially related to this kind of leak. [via autonews]